As family physicians, we regularly care for children and families in our clinics and communities and see firsthand the needs that are not being met and/or the support that is lacking.
The Minnesota Legislature has introduced several bills in the 2021 legislative session that if passed will improve the health of children and families across our state: one focusing on paid family leave and two on early childcare and education.
Paid Family Leave Act
We know as physicians who care for both children and families that access to family medical leave helps set infants and families up for better success and better health.
HF 1200, the Paid Family Leave Act, will provide up to 12 weeks of partial wage replacement for medical leave (including pregnancy) for self and/or family while protecting job and health care benefits.
Early Childcare & Education
The period of pregnancy through three years of age is critical for acquisition of the brain synaptic connections leading to character and reading skills necessary for school and later in life (more on early child development). Parents and/or caregivers need our support during this critical time of child development, including access to equitable, quality early childcare and education (impacting both child development and physical and mental health).
Unfortunately, our current early childhood system in Minnesota is fragmented, underfunded and not accessible to all children and families in need. Minnesota continues to lead the nation in opportunity and achievement gaps and the impact of that begins in early childhood.
One piece of legislation that has been proposed would improve the quality of and access to early childhood care and education for families across our state.
HF 1278 establishes the Great Start for All Minnesota Children Task Force to ensure all families receive access to affordable, high-quality early childcare and education that provides enrichment, nurturing and support—for children from birth through age five. The bill includes:
- creating a system under which no family pays more than seven percent of its income for early childcare and education.
- ensuring that a child’s access to high-quality early childcare and education is not determined by the child’s race, income or zip code.
- increasing compensation and professional development opportunities for the early childcare and education workforce.
We stand with our colleagues in pediatrics and early childhood care and education in supporting legislation that improves the health and development of Minnesota children and families.
Contact your representatives and urge them to adequately fund early childcare and education and access to family medical leave.